If you work with students, I can't recommend highly enough the value of gathering parents together for training. They are the most influential force in a students life. Virtually every study ever done continues to prove this again and again. Like this one will prove the point nicely. As a result, training parents is one of the very best investments I can make into what is "normal" for the lives of students.
Our second session was all about what stands between us and success in this goal as parents. The question we posed is, "What is the biggest hurdle we have in raising children into young adults who are passionate about following Jesus with their lives?" I invited Mark Oestreicher to turn a rock over and reveal the problem of extended adolescence. A big reason we are having trouble raising adults in this culture is cuz someone keeps moving the finish line. To this end, Marko passionately challenged parents that not only have the teen years begun to become a lifestyle instead of a lifestage, but that both the life stage and the lifestyle are creations of our American culture at large. For the vast majority of our human history, there were two stages: child and adult. Check out this chart that shows how this hiccup between childhood and adolescence has been changing over time as puberty ages drop and pressures to become an adult extend.
We challenged parents that one of the key contributors to extended adolescence is the distancing and separation of adults from the lives of kids. So an answer for us comes in this value:
CORE VALUE #2. I am my kids greatest influence.
We cannot minimize this fact or dismiss it. We must begin to leverage our influence against this rising tide. We need it to be normative that as a parent at Journey, we stack hands on a common mission and that we all meet weekly in one-on-one contexts with our kids. If absentee adults are contributing to the extension of adolescence and parents are the single greatest indicator of a kids health in the future, then we need healthy parents meeting weekly with their kids.
Seriously! Could you imagine how RADICALLY OUR YOUTH MINISTRY CONTEXT WOULD CHANGE if every student in my ministry was meeting one on one with their own parent once a week? WOW, what a difference that would make!!
Here's a brief video we made of several of our staff's kids and the influence meeting one-on-one with them makes.